Concerned about your cholesterol levels? Is there is a history of heart disease in your family? Contact us or download our cholesterol fact sheets.
Excess blood cholesterol becomes stuck in the linings of an artery, eventually the artery narrows.
Symptoms of high cholesterol
High cholesterol is often called "the silent killer" because for most people there are no obvious signs and symptoms to look out for. The first sign that you have high cholesterol could be:
- Angina - caused by the narrowing of one or more arteries that feed the heart
- Heart attack - caused by a blockage in one of the arteries that feed the heart
- Stroke - caused by a blockage in one of the arteries in the neck or brain
- Pain on walking - caused by a blockage to an artery that feeds the leg muscles
These symptoms point to the presence of established heart and circulatory disease.
Other signs to look out for
HEART UK believes that people should be aware of their risk from cholesterol. There are some things that make it more likely you have unhealthy cholesterol levels. These are:
- a mum, dad, brother, sister or child with high cholesterol
- a mum, dad, brother or sister who have had a heart attack or angina before the age of 50 (man) or 60 (woman)
- being a type 2 diabetic
- having a diet high in animal/saturated fat
- being physically inactive
- fatty deposits on your eyelids or a white ring around the iris of the eye
Not everyone with these signs will have high cholesterol. To help prevent cardiovascular (heart and circulatory) disease anyone over the age of 40 should have their cholesterol tested every 5 years. Your GP should invite you to an NHS Health Check, where a cholesterol test and other checks will help determine your risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the coming years. They will also look for sign of diabetes and kidney disease.
Other risk factors
It is important to remember that high cholesterol is only one risk factor. Your risk of cardiovascular disease increases if you have additional risk factors such as: